Friday, July 18, 2014

Freelance with Elance

I've recently decided to go into the freelance business. Because, well, when all of your education is in writing and editing and you haven't hit the New York Times bestseller's list yet, that's your option. I blogged last week about an action plan--a normal part of business blog that I think all freelancers and all writers should have even if they have yet to create a full business plan. But I'm continuing to do research and my action plan has changed. 
My initial action plan involved two craigslist ads. One for my resume writing services and another for my editorial services. One of the worst experiences of my life resulted from a craigslist ad. Why I thought this would be a good idea, I'm not sure. But as I continued to do research, I found other writers say they had had very bad experiences with craigslist and one man said he had many bad experiences with craigslist and no good experiences through that site. That opened my eyes. What he recommended instead was Elance. A site I had never heard of, but I checked it out. And I love it! I think I've been on Elance as a freelancer just over a week. And I snagged my first client! I'm writing articles for a sports ezine, at an industry standard pay rate. What I like about Elance is, I can see how many times an employer has posted, hired and what they have paid out before applying. If you use Elance's payment protection program, you can also avoid potential situations where you aren't paid for a job. I also hired a freelancer from elance last week to help with the launching of Finding Hope, a YA romance I will be releasing in the fall. I enjoyed using the site that way as well. I'm happy to say craigslist is no longer part of my action plan. But I am still looking for good ways to advertise.
Have you ever used Elance? What was your experience? Do you have suggestions for good places to advertise?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wait For It!

Do you need to sell your house? And at top dollar? If you answered that first question with a yes, you most likely answered yes to the second question. Are you in the market to buy a home? For a steal? Again, if you answered yes to the first question, you probably answered yes to the second question. What's the winning strategy in both scenarios? Wait for it!
If you want to sell a house quickly, depending on your market you might be able to. (In Texas, you could sell it overnight). But if you do this, your probably not getting maximum value for your house. Sometimes, a quick sell is best. You know your goal better than I do, but most of the time we need to max our investment. And a higher asking price will turn off some buyers. But holding out can make thousands of dollars of difference. And "wait for it" can start before your home even goes on the market. Everyone in real estate but few people outside of the industry seem to know that housing prices go up in the spring/summer and drop in the fall. So if you're not in a dire need to sell and you're trying to get top dollar, waiting to list your home after Memorial Day can be a huge part of your strategy.
On the flip side, if you're in the market to buy you wait until fall. Let me say that again. If you're in the market to buy a house, wait until the fall. There are situations where you could potentially need to sell a house outside of the peak term. I cannot think of a good reason to buy before fall. Believe me. After selling our home in The Woodlands and moving here, my family is living in a two bedroom apartment. My toddler has no outdoor space to play and things are packed so tightly, I often get hit in the head by flying objects when trying to do simple things like open a closet door. My husband would totally buy tomorrow if I asked him to. But it's not worth it. I'd love an office! But I'm not willing to put an extra ten-twenty thousand dollars on a loan when in a few months, it will be a buyer's market again.
What are your thoughts? Anyone have any experience with this? 
P.S. I'm giving away a free press release to help kick off my freelance business.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 14, 2014

Free Summer Fun

With school out, there are so many fun things we can do with the kiddos! But entertaining a bored child can get expensive so I thought I'd come up with some free and almost free things to do.

  1. Parks & Recreation- Check out your local parks. Even in Austin TX we are having such a mild summer this year, I've been able to take my kid to the park and we found this super cool one that is a miniature city! Now I realize not all towns will have this kind of park, but you can probably find something cool without too much of a drive. When we were in Wisconsin, the area we were in was dilapidated and community/city services and quality of life were seriously no where close to home. But even there we found an awesome park only half an hour away. 
  2. Free Fun @ The Library- Now there is always free fun at the library. Spending an afternoon collecting books with a child is arguably the best way to spend an afternoon. Your fostering habits that will serve that child well. Lots of libraries have story time year round, but most libraries offer extra programming during the summer months and because they understand school is out they offer educational programs. Our library even does free movies during the summer.
  3. Free movies- Sometimes the library does free movies but parks often have free movies during the summer too. A couple years ago, several local theaters showed older kiddie movies for free during the summer. So they weren't exactly new releases but it was still something fun and free (and out of the triple digit heat) to do with your kid. And a good way to learn if your toddler could sit still through a movie before shelling out $6. This year, I haven't heard of free theater screenings, but one of our larger theaters are offering morning showings for $1/show. That's pretty close to free.
So what are your plans for summer activities? Did I miss any free fun?

P.s. To help kick off my freelance services, I'm giving away a press release. I'd love to help promote your product or service. Please enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Finding The Perfect House & Free Press Release

I want to live here! Really, I do. And it would be easy to say this is the perfect house. Let's assume this baby got foreclosed on and because of that was in a price range a middle class engineer and his freelance writer wife could afford. This beautiful, luxury home still would not be a good house for my family. Why? Can you imagine what it would cost to keep that massive beast cool in a Texas July? Yeah. If we want things like electricity, a house this size is a no-go. And there is another problem. No way is this one woman show cleaning more than 2400 square feet without a maid. It just won't happen. Beautiful but not perfect.

The house to the right might be perfect for me. Every square inch of it (interior included) is my favorite color,and it's a regal style that I like. With all that purple, I bet the law school drop out in me could negotiate a heck of a deal. It wouldn't be perfect for my family though, because my husband would refuse to live there. What's my point? There is no perfect house. But there is a perfect home for your family. And here is how you find it. You sit down with your spouse--and your kids if they're old enough--and you make a list of what you really need. You talk about why you really need it to make it's a need not a want. Then you make a list of what you really want. You review the list of what you really, really want and you think of new ways to get it. We wanted a pool, but finding a house with yard space to add a pool was sufficient. We could wait to add the pool until the baby wasn't a baby and alleviate some fear from life. We could get the pool we wanted. We needed hardwood floors because I refuse to clean tile grout! Some of our primary concerns were that the property be a good investment and budget. (Of course--I'm a writer--budget is always a concern). We bought our first house in an expensive suburb, but it's where my husband worked and it didn't make sense to move into the city. Everyone--including three real estate agents--told me I wasn't going to find what I was looking for at the price point I wanted but I did. Because I knew what I needed. I bought a house with crummy white 90s appliances. They were horrible. Looking at the kitchen made me want to die! But for $3000 new appliances made the whole house look different, and it's how I bought a recently built house in a very popular subdivision for under 150!

What tips do you have for finding the perfect home? And what's on your list? I want to hear about it. Don't forget I'm giving one lucky winner a free press release. Sign up using the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 7, 2014

Frozen Theme Party Ideas

So for my first Mommy and Me post, I thought it would be a good idea to throw out some inexpensive Frozen theme party ideas. My tot loved it!

1. Build A Snowman- Even in Austin Texas! We used blocks, scarves, and anything else we could find and built snowmen. The ELF was turning two and she had more fun knocking the snowmen down than anything, but it was a good creative exercise.
2. "Let It Go" Lipsing- We used gave a plastic microphone to each child and let them sing and dance to Let It Go. If you do't have microphones you could make your own out of construction paper or other items you have around the house. You could even let the kids help with this. I'm all about inspiring creativity.
3. Play With Ice Crystals- Again, we're in Texas so we used bubbles, but all the kids loved it. I think it was the most enjoyed part of the party.
4. Journey to Elsa's Castle- Set up an age appropriate obstacle course and let the kids work their way through it to save Elsa. And if you really wanted to get those kids through the obstacle course fast, cake could be waiting at the other side in Elsa's castle!

What other theme parties have you seen for toddlers and young kids? What's your favorite? 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Make an Action Plan

It's freelance Friday here at  the 'real' Beth. I very recently decided to offer freelance writing and editing services, so I can be at home with my daughter. The prospect of essentially starting my own business was terrifying. After years of being an author, I understood I would need some sort of business plan, but I didn't even know where to begin. So I spent days researching it on Google, and figured out I needed an action plan. I wrote down goals. The action plan should help me achieve them. Your action plan should include things like a list of services to offer, price points, equipment needed (you may already have this), your "unique selling point" (what makes you really stand out from the competition), and a marketing plan. I realized someone looking to hire business writers might not be lured in by my purple YA/romance book blog and quickly started a second blog with new topics. My marketing plan includes building an actual website (not just a blog), ads, and any free promotion I can get. (For example, I'm going to get on lists of service providers for indie authors as manuscript editing is a service I offer). Your marketing plan should work with the service you're providing and be possible to accomplish. And it's a good idea to be able to track the results. I'm still working on this.
Do you do freelance work? Do you use action plans or marketing plans? What marketing tools have been the most helpful?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The 'Real' Beth Here!

Meet the 'Real' Beth Fred. That's me! I've been blogging book reviews, writing advice, author promotion, and my own fiction journey since 2010. When I started writing fiction and my first blog, I was a paralegal. Now, I'm a stay at home mom of the most adorable two year old embarking on an additional career path as a freelance writer. (Because writing books didn't keep me busy enough). I started this new blog as a platform my interest in parenting/family issues (the good and bad) and my interest in real estate and freelance writing. A typical week around here will work like this: Monday- Mommy and Me. Fun Things w/ Tots Wed- Keepin' It 'Real'- A Real Estate Post & Freelance Friday- A post for freelance writers. I hope to see you around. I've met so many awesome authors at I can't wait to meet new people here.